Client engagement is a broad term. Ask a panel of legal professionals what those two little words mean and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers. Some of those responses will depend on the individual and how closely they work with the clients. Other answers will be informed by the law firm’s culture and approach. Still others will respond based on their current capabilities – and what they wish they could do with client engagement.
The point is, it’s almost too much to consider at times. Is client engagement about responsiveness? Customer care? User experience? Legal service delivery? Marketing?
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Each of these things (and more) do indeed matter to firms and clients. But they’re not all created equal. Some are more feasible than others. Some are more important to the client than the firm. And some are simply far more urgent, with the potential to affect your bottom line if left unaddressed. What’s needed is a disciplined perspective. A framework firms can use to organize the elements of client engagement and to define the behaviors and technology needed to move forward.
One such framework is the AAA approach to client engagement: Access, Awareness, and Action.
Think about the old days of handing off paperwork and waiting for it to come back your way. It might still have been yours, but that doesn’t mean you could get to it. Losing access to vital information and data places an opaque curtain between the client and the legal team. It’s the opposite of engagement. It’s a schism.
Granting reliable and easy access to your firm, your people, and your client’s work eliminates the blind spots that can plague legal matters. It removes the mystery surrounding your work product and creates a stronger partnership between you and your clients. With access, it’s easy for clients to connect with their lawyers or legal teams when they need them. It’s easy to share, review, sign, or reject documents in real-time. It’s easy to know the lay of the land – without having to ask for a status update.
Think of awareness as the new client engagement currency. Customers around the world are clamoring for the awareness that digital technology can provide. Once you’ve had a FedEx tracking number or Uber ETA in your hands, it’s hard to go back to the “wait and wonder” approach. That’s because the technology in these examples delivers peace of mind and builds anticipation. It creates an emotional investment in the status of your transaction. Don’t believe it? Order a pizza online and track your order. You’ll soon understand the simple joy of seeing tonight’s dinner status move from “preparing your order” to “baking.”
Those examples might seem trivial, but by giving your clients an awareness of their legal matter, you’re opening up a whole new world of client engagement. Even valuable services like yours are still a significant line item on the client’s own expense account. It’s important to deliver that value in a way that is obvious and consistent. Obvious because no client should have to wonder where they stand. Consistent because it breeds trust and loyalty in a highly competitive market.
Want to actually engage your clients and see a ROI on your portals and digital tools? Make those places functional. Access and awareness are vital, but effective client engagement includes more than showing and sharing alone. It needs to have an element of action. Ask yourself what is possible given the legal technology at your disposal, then make it a reality.
The actions your firm sets before your clients may overlap with the access discussed above. Document management and signatures spring to mind. But today’s flexible and powerful platforms can be used to create so much more. Imagine customized workflows and toolkits that align your firm’s capabilities with client needs. Interactive document builders and self-service legal experiences – all delivered in a digital experience that reflects today’s remote workforce.
It’s an understatement to say that client engagement is a deep dive. No single blog post or article can hold all the secrets to success in this arena. But if your law firm is looking for a way to think about client engagement – especially from a digital or technological perspective – consider the AAA approach: access, awareness, and action. Hit these three marks, and your firm will be on the road to success.
Want to get there sooner? Check out the ways HighQ helps law firms enrich their client engagement strategies.